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Waidner-Spahr Library

Please see our Library Services Updates: Summer & Fall 2021 website for the most up-to-date information about library services.

Research Process: Secondary Sources

Use this guide to as a basic guide to research. Information is included on how to use keywords and phrases, evaluate a source. This guide can also help you identify primary and secondary sources and expand or narrow your searches.

Finding Secondary Sources

You can find secondary sources in many places, in our library they can be found in books and articles.

  • Search the catalog for books.
  • Browse databases by subject to start searching for articles.

What is a Secondary Source?

A secondary source is a document which is derived from, or based on, study and analysis of primary sources. These are works that are not original manuscripts or contemporary records, but which critique, comment on, or build upon these primary sources. They interpret and analyze primary sources and provide the background necessary to understand the primary sources.

A secondary source may be printed or electronic material and can include:

  • reviews
  • criticism
  • editorials
  • analyses
  • histories
  • commentaries

Most scholarly journal articles are secondary sources which provide analysis, interpretation, or evaluation.

Choosing a Database